In his first book as pontiff, Pope Francis expands his thinking on homosexuality, saying that gay men and lesbians are destined to receive God's infinite love.

The 100-page book, titled The Name Of God Is Mercy, is part of Francis' Holy Year of Mercy.

In the book, Francis is quoted by Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli as saying that self-righteous Christians who challenge Jesus' message of unconditional love for the marginalized are often morally bankrupt.

“These are men who live attached to the letter of the law but who neglect love; men who only know how to close doors and draw boundaries,” Francis said.

“We must avoid the attitude of someone who judges and condemns from the lofty heights of his own certainty, looking for the splinter in his brother's eye while remaining unaware of the beam in his own. Let us always remember that God rejoices more when one sinner returns to the fold than when 99 righteous people have no need of repentance.”

Gay rights groups cheered in 2013 when Francis answered “Who am I to judge?” to a question about gays. But conservatives criticized the pope, saying that he neglected to mention that church teaching holds that gay acts are “intrinsically disordered.”

According to the AP, Francis goes to “some length throughout the text to cite scripture and previous popes to make clear that his radical agenda [of treating gays with respect] is fully rooted in the church's basic teachings.”

“People should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies: Let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love,” Francis said. “I prefer that homosexuals come to confession, that they stay close to the Lord, and that we pray all together. You can advise them to pray, show goodwill, show them the way, and accompany them along it.”